Saturday, 31 August 2013

Seconds Out

My last post announcing The Football Analyst’s entry into the FTL ignited something of a firestorm in the comments section, with the combatants losing sight of what the F stands for. Friendly!

I am not going to reproduce all the comments here or my post would rival one of Graeme’s in length, but they are available should anyone be interested.

A brief summary is in order though, and it all started with Neil (Punter’s Friend) expressing surprise at Graeme’s decision to apply for entry into the FTL. He quoted Graeme as saying:

"probably the worst tipster league I’ve ever seen published anywhere on the net?"
He also said that:
"Putting my systems into Cassini’s friendly tipster league would be like Barcelona playing in the Bsq Prem for a season"
Now Cassini has a thick skin, (most selections are not mine anyway), and he is also prone to tongue-in-cheek comments along the lines of Graeme’s “Barcelona in the Blue Square Premier League” himself so no harm, no foul.

There was mention of a thread on OLBG which runs to 48 pages, so I only glanced at the opening and closing pages, but the gist of it seems to be that someone (perhaps Neil) started recording bets on laying odds-on home favourites, but finally wrapped it up after (inevitably) early profits were almost completely eroded by subsequent losses. [Correction - I did say I only glanced at this thread. I am told by Neil that the idea was laying away teams in all English Leagues, and in two seasons "it did not lose any money"].

While the Bundesliga, as something of an outlier among the top leagues, continues to offer slight value to home / odds-on layers, I haven’t seen the same returns consistently from any other leagues. The trap that many fall into is that a season seems like a long time, and a large sample, but in statistical terms it is a miniscule snapshot, and often the difference between profit and loss is one freak result such as Barcelona losing at home to Hercules.

Whether anyone is claiming an ROI of 18% or not on such a simple system, such a return does seem highly unlikely over any significant length of time. ROIs are really quite meaningless until you have a sample size of, in my opinion, at least a hundred. Over the short term, you could find seasons where a simple strategy is profitable (Lay Liverpool is a current favourite) but it’s unlikely that any such system will be profitable indefinitely. The chances of the system maintaining profitability are reduced even more by advertising your short-term success on a betting forum.

Whatever the deal is between Neil and Graeme, the latter’s entry into the FTL, with his promise of £25 to anyone finishing ahead of him at the end of the season, is a positive. With Graeme making the selections available to all ahead of time, you have the option of profiting from them yourself, or winning the £25 if they are losers. Win-win.

A couple of comments have compared the Neil v Graeme debate with the occasional disagreement between myself and Mark Iverson, the latest being the frankly dangerous and awful Soccer In Play app which seems to me to be nothing more than a bookmaker sponsored gimmick designed with the sole intention of making the less sophisticated bettor think they have an edge, and throw money away.

As I pointed out in this post, the app has a grand total of FOUR sets of results, with no details on how, when, or from what leagues these numbers were obtained. Enter any two classifications of teams for any league in the world, and your pre-game probabilities will be one of the following:
That Chelsea would have the same probability of beating Tottenham Hotspur or Crystal Palace would seem to most of us to be quite ridiculous, and how Mark can claim that the app is in any way a useful betting tool is frankly incredible. Football matches cannot be broken down into four outcomes.

The most worrisome aspect of this misrepresentation is that a few less than sophisticated bettors will possibly be seduced by this toy, and lose money, and to highlight the occasional ‘win’ as support for the idea that the app is anything but garbage is disingenuous to say the least.

The basic idea remains a good one though, but to be useful you need to be able to enter individual teams, and the data needs to be league specific and frequently maintained. Many of us have our own models that we update each week, (time-consuming, but essential), and the odds on a home win will not always be one of these four - 1.55, 2.02, 2.42, 3.52

Looking ahead to this weekend’s matches, FTL leader Fedslam has the following selections:

Cardiff City v Everton - Cardiff win
Newcastle United v Fulham - Draw
Norwich City v Southampton - Norwich win
West Ham United v Stoke City - Over 2.5 goals
Crystal Palace v Sunderland - Draw
Liverpool v Manchester United - Draw
West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City- Draw
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Over 2.5 goals

As he is the only non-service in profit, those are the only selections you get this week.  

A late comment from Anonymous went like this:
Geez Cassini, you sure do seem to have a knack for creating a bit of buzz and controversy!
Think I remember you from the 'Ultimate Betting Forum' could be wrong of course.
Please say something nasty or skeptical about my new blog, so that I get a bit of free traffic, I'm pretty lonely talking to myself
: )
As Gary pointed out -
And Anonymous it seems, missed the name part lol : )
Webbo could be Anonymous, as he requested adding to the blog roll.

And Anon could be wrong about the Ultimate Betting Forum. Never heard of it, never mind contributed to it.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wise Man Of The Betting Blogosphere

The Carrot Dangler
If Graeme Dand, aka The Football Analyst, @TFAsystems is lacking anything, it is most certainly not confidence. I threw down the gauntlet in my last FTL update post and Graeme has not only picked it up, but has proceeded to metaphorically heartily slap each of us around the face with it, both cheeks, while calling us "losers". Kind of.

His email is below in full, but the highlight is that Graeme is not only happy to join the FTL, but is so confident of success and glory that he will also be dangling a £25 carrot for each and every entrant who finishes above him in the FTL table.

Graeme and I go back a long way. I believe I was in short trousers waiting for my voice to break when I first crossed paths with him in a discussion about horse racing and edges back in 2008, and he is a good egg.

Here is Graeme’s email in full, with my responses in brackets.
Hi Cassini. Hope things are well. [Things are well]
Just saw your blog post re. the FTL. [Try to read a little more frequently - there's some brilliant stuff on here].
I'm happy to get involved if entries are still allowed? [Entries are indeed still allowed. The only requirement is that the minimum total number of bets will be 64, and each month (August and September count as one as do April and May) must have at least 5 selections. Late comers can join at any time (might be an idea if everyone is deep in the red!) but the will need to make a pro-rated number of total selections, plus the minimum of 5 per month].
I won't have bets for a couple of weeks as I need 6-8 games to be played in each league. Given the start you guys have had, I'll pay the £25 entry and also put up a carrot of £25 to each person who finishes above me in the table! [Like rabbits, we love carrots].
Based on last year's FTL performance, any system I had would have won the league, so there's minimal risk I hope! I'll build a unique system for the FTL so you don't need to worry about pasting the bets beforehand. They won't match the subscriber bets. [Bring it on big boy!]
Only thing I need to know is how the league is ranked. Is it based on pts won or ROI? [The league is ranked on points. I do show the ROI as some people are interested in this number, but the points are what really matter].
I'll build a system to win the league based on either. Let me know your thoughts. I'm away on holiday from today, so may be slow in replying mate but as always, I'll reply when I can. No worries if I've missed the boat. Always next year! Hopefully my offer of £25 to each person who finishes above my system would ensure anyone in the league already doesn't mind me joining. :) 
And I thought I was modest! Well, the more the merrier, and the prospect of extra money coming into the pot must surely appeal to all those currently signed up, and possibly to anyone interested in joining the party. Finish ahead of Graeme and you at least get your money back. 

£25 PayPal to CalcioCassini @ is all it takes to join the fun - plus a few selections of course.

And finally, I’m not sure what prompted it, but Random Man commented that I am what Fergie “might have called the Dennis Wise of the betting blogosphere”. For those unfamiliar with Sir Alex’s words, he once said about Wise that “he could start a fight in an empty house” but I think Random Man may have simply meant that I am a wise man...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Soccer In Play

Danny Murphy is back, but with a considered and accurate comment on a subject I don't think has been discussed too widely in the blog world:

Cassini I must congratulate you for the excellent reading of the Sunderland Fulham pre match odds in your recent Betting Expert article of August 13th.
This is in stark contrast to a similar attempt by Mr Mark Iverson on the Norwich Everton match in his blog.
To me his pre match model appears to be very crude, grouping teams into very broad bands as it does. How you could rationally argue Norwich to be 2.41 shots against Everton is beyond my comprehension and it should be noted the market had Norwich at 3.81 at kick off.
The funny thing is Mark's conclusion of either backing Norwich or laying Everton was correct, albeit for the wrong reasons. If you know your odds construction there is no way Norwich could be much less than 3.00 for this game unless Everton had a lot of injuries but in fact it was Norwich who had injury doubts themselves. Norwich at 2.41 is not a credible percentage against such a strong opponent.
If Mark had seen Norwich at 3.81 and viewed them as 3.00 shots that would be rational but the 2.41 was a rogue figure.

Perhaps it is a case of 'garbage in garbage out' with this model?
In my opinion, an app of this kind would be an excellent idea, and something that would well be worth a lot of money if it worked. The idea of being able to input two teams and the current game-state and see the probability of various outcomes based on historical data is as good as it gets, especially if it's for free, but unfortunately, the "Soccer In Play" app is not this model, and falls short in a number of ways.

For a start, it does not allow you to input two teams, but only two, often very subjective, categories of teams.

The input options are limited to A Top Team, Top Half Team, Bottom Half Team and Relegation Candidate. While the category for some teams in some leagues might be clear-cut, the definitions are vague, and many teams are hard to categorise, especially early in a season.

There is also no opportunity to select the league nor indeed any indication of what league or leagues the historical data is from. This is important, because the statistics from the Bundesliga are quite different from Ligue 1 for example, and each league and division has its own personality.

The app does say that it uses “data from across the top leagues in the world” which implies more than just Europe, but where these leagues are is unknown. South America perhaps, but presumably not MLS where there is no relegation and thus no team would ever be a "Relegation Candidate".

There is no consideration for form, but even more seriously, the numbers are simply wrong, or 'rogue' as Danny phrases it.

The image below gives the projected pre-game percentages for the 16 possible combinations of matches between the four classifications of teams.
Look closely.

Now does it really make sense that “A Top Team”, would have the same probability (0.6453) of beating a “Top Half” team as they would of beating “A Relegation Candidate” or a "Bottom Half Team"?

And those exact same numbers are coincidentally the same for a “Top Half” team beating a “Relegation Candidate”.

In fact, of the 16 possible combinations, (allowing for rounding) no less than five are 41 / 29 / 29, four are 65 / 22 / 13, another four are 28 / 27 / 44 and the other three are 49 / 28 / 23. 
Is a “Bottom Half” team really as likely to beat another “Bottom Half” team as it is a “Top Half team”? Mark uses Norwich City v Everton as an example of this latter match up, but his model would generate exactly the same odds were Norwich City at home to say Cardiff City, Stoke City or Sunderland.

Is “A Top Team” really as likely to lose at a “Top Half Team” as it is at a “Relegation Candidate”?

For a “Relegation Candidate”, they apparently have the same probability of beating “A Top Team” as they do a “Top Half” team, and identical probabilities when playing a “Bottom Half” team or another “Relegation Candidate”.

But only at home. Away, they have the same chance of winning at “A Top Team” as they do at a “Top Half” team. I would love to see the database for these statistics.

There are some other anomalies which you can see in the numbers above, but the bottom line is that while playing with the app may be a curiosity, it is certainly not an app that should be used for making investing decisions. The ULTIMATE in-play soccer app it is not.
The numbers discussed are those pre-game, but there is no evidence to suggest that the quality of the in-play data would be any better.

The presence of a bet365 advertisement on the app is revealing though. I've seen them advertise somewhere before. At first sight, one might wonder why on Earth a bookmaker would sponsor such a valuable weapon in the punter’s arsenal, but on reflection, it’s all rather obvious - along with why the "Soccer In Play" app is completely free. 
Out of interest, I looked at tonight's Freiburg v Bayern Munich match, and my model has Bayern Munich at 1.29. Soccer In Play has them at 2.26 (if Freiburg are considered relegation candidates, a bottom half, or a top half team). Betfair has them at 1.275.

Full Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Danny Murphy, the Soccer In Play app or bet365 and screenshots are for illustrative purposes only, and should not be considered recommendations. 

Fedslam Leads

Apologies to fedslam whom I suggested had taken a break from selections this week. As he corrected me, he had in fact made several picks, but because I was away for the weekend and in catch-up mode, I forgot that his selections come from a different email name for which I offer my sincere apologies. The good news for fedslam is that he now has a whole post dedicated to a study of his selections, which included one from last night’s big match at Old Trafford.

Here were his selections for the weekend, with a few nice winners in there.

FULHAM v Arsenal
Hull City v Norwich City – Draw
Newcastle United v West Ham United – Draw
Southampton v Sunderland – Over 2.5
Stoke City v Crystal Palace – Over 2.5
ASTON VILLA v Liverpool
CARDIFF CITY v Manchester City
Manchester United v Chelsea - Draw

He certainly wasn’t the only one to expect more from Fulham and Aston Villa, and Norwich City were arguably a little unlucky to lose. Two draws from three and a win for Cardiff City more than made up for the losses though, and fedders is back in the title hunt going from 11th to 1st in one fell swoop.

Here is the updated table:
The more awake among you will have realized that you can enter the FTL now, and with a starting total of zero, already be in third place. I am just saying.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Hits, Not Runs

A little surprisingly, none of the FTL entries have any selections from tonight's Manchester United v Chelsea game, so I can publish the FTL. It's not too impressive that only one entry (of 13) is currently in the green, but it is still early days of course.

Last week's leader Forza Fizzer dropped a couple of points, although I personally played his Inverness Caledonian Thistle selection by laying Celtic which was a winner.

Second placed Football Elite went for a back of Aston Villa, with the Draw No Bet, but this one was a loser, and third placed Punter's Friend had four lay selections, only one of which obliged by failing to win. Here's the latest table:

The XX Draws had a mixed weekend with nine of eleven selections staying Under 2.5 goals, but only three of the matches ending even. The last two matches of the weekend were both perfect (0-0) draws and nine winners was good enough to lift the XX Draws U2.5 to first place in the table, but the three draws this weekend means that the same selections backed as draws stay in the wooden spoon position. In baseball terms, we are getting hits but not runs right now.

Premier Betting had a better weekend, with three winners from five FTL selections and four from seven official winners, and move up to third. The Bundeslayga system found one winner from three for a small loss, and Skeeve's FTL entries found one winner from three selections.

Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster again found one winner from five selections for another small loss, while Fedslam took a rest this week.

Scatter Gun improved on previous weeks finding three winners from ten, but another small loss on the week. He needs to stop selecting Coventry City at "home". They followed up a 5-4 win v Bristol City two weeks ago with a 4-4 draw with Preston North End, and their four league matches to date have seen a total of 26 goals. It's a brave man who picks Unders on Coventry's matches these days.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Bets On, Feet Up

Current FTL leader Forza Fizzer (Tony liked the proposed name, and the FTL Management Committee approved it at their weekly meeting) has two more selections this week, and here they are along with his reasoning. 
Staying in the Scottish Prem this week with two selections:-

Away wins for Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

OK , Inverness first.
I might be falling into the keep picking them trap, but I picked out Inverness pre-season as the most underrated team in the SPL and took the Evens on them finishing top 6 and had a small flutter on Billy McKay to be top scorer.
Great start and the last fixture Celtic would want this weekend after the tiring and demoralising Euro trip this week, and the need to be fit and ready for what is now a vital 2nd leg fixture for them next Wednesday.
Inverness won one of their two league visits to Parkhead last season (at odds of 13.0) and go in on a high - odds of 8.0 on Betfair look too big to ignore.

Aberdeen have shown their ambition in pre-season, building their squad, and they also have a proven forward in Niall McGinn. Before last weeks loss they had a strong away win at Motherwell.
Hearts have done well so far given they have to go with their youth, but they haven't played a team of Aberdeen's level. 2.28 with Betfair.
Celtic v Inverness - a match that always reminds me of that classic 2000 headline. The only other currently profitable entries are both subscription services (Football Elite and Skeeve) so those will remain confidential until after the weekend's action is complete.

On a different note,  Steve R commented on my Work post with this:
After all, the first question after meeting someone for the first time is often "So what do you do?", and instant impressions are formed depending on the answer.

Re the above, so this means that basically we are all defined by what work we do, rather than who we are? This to me, based on life experience, is plainly wrong. I am not concerned with what somebody does for a living, compared to how they are as a friend or fellow human being. This may sound "wishy washy" but when you experience happiness or tragedy with family or friends, you do realise that financial success is truly unimportant. It is the misconception that possessions, materialism and great wealth equates to happiness. You can certainly have happiness without it and conversely you can have great wealth and still be miserable. There are other things that induce happiness, life does not have to revolve around work.
Your blog was an interesting read on a Monday morning though! Have a good week and best wishes to you.
What a polite young man. This is certainly taking the idea and running with it, because our work alone does not, or at least should not, define us. My comment was meant to illustrate the important role that our work plays in how others see us, certainly initially, and the ‘meeting someone at a party’ example does illustrate this. It’s usually one of the first questions asked when you meet someone new, be it in the pub, seated next to you on a flight, or indeed at a party, and the answer, like that all-important first impression, makes a difference to your perception of that person. That initial impression may well be modified later as you get to know them better, but we all make instant judgments based on the answer. The nature of someone’s work is often a guide to their intelligence, education, background, interests and personality.

A reply of “barrister” will ensure that your perception of that person is quite different to a reply of “stand-up comedian”. (I have heard both incidentally, with the latter [Bill Engvall for those interested] owing – in my opinion – much of his later success to recycling some of the excellent jokes I told him at that party. I am still awaiting my share of his estimated $40 million net worth by the way, but he was a nice guy - just not quite as funny as me, although I was in particularly sparkling form that night).

You can also have fun with your answer. As most of you know, I work in IT, and my career has seen me work in a lot of industries. One was pharmaceuticals, and depending on my audience, at that time I would sometimes answer the “what do you do question” with “I sell drugs”. In some shadier settings, that reply would trigger some interesting responses, the best was probably “you and I need to exchange phone numbers”. His perception of me was certainly different from what it would have been had I answered “I’m in IT".

But back to the original comment – no, work doesn’t totally define us, nor should it, but it’s often a useful opening bucket to assign someone to, and my comment on 'rich' was intentionally limited to the financial definition. I agree totally with Steve that financial success, however you define it, is really unimportant in the whole scheme of things. Few would argue that working your socks off for thirty years and dying of a stress-induced heart attack is something to strive for, so keep the work-life balance in perspective.

Speaking of which, I shall be off in the next few minutes for a well-deserved weekend getaway myself with no laptop. Enjoy the games, and good luck this weekend.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Revill's Range

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner today, comes another sorry tale of greed and addiction. I liked the line that the subject bet on sports 'ranging from tennis to football" as if sports 'range' in that way. Is cricket within that range or does it fit before tennis or after football?
An IT manager ordered £18m worth of computer equipment through his employer’s accounts and gambled away the £5m he made from selling it, a court heard.
Jonathan Revill, from Shepley, was employed as a service delivery systems manager at a Leeds subsidiary company of GDF Suez – one of the world’s biggest energy companies with a billion pound turnover.
He was earning a £55,000 a year salary with bonus and a £400 a month car allowance but had a “serious addiction to gambling,” Mehran Nassiri prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
Less than a year after he started working for the firm he realised he could place orders that would not be noticed.
Although he was limited to £3,000 purchases without further approval he forged signatures and over the next three years ordered £18,976,062.63 worth of equipment.
That was delivered either to his home in Huddersfield or to storage unit and quickly sold for less than its value either on E-bay or to six different companies.
Revill’s dishonesty only came to light earlier this year when an audit revealed financial irregularities but by then he had gambled away nearly all of the £5.6m raised. The only asset now left is his £500,000 house.
Even when he was bailed while police inquiries were continuing he spent £2,500 on further gambling.
It is understood Revill bet on sports ranging from tennis to football.
Revill, 38, of Marsh Lane, Shepley, was jailed for a total of seven years after he admitted four charges of fraud and three transferring criminal property.
Sentencing him Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “In three years you used 104 invoices to order property to the value of almost £19m. It is a vast amount of money.
“You were addicted to gambling – all the money has gone on gambling save for your house which you will now lose.”
He said fortunately the company had a one billion pound turnover so was not going to be forced into liquidation by its loss.
Ben Hargreaves, representing Revill, said he was made bankrupt in 2005 and was then out of work for four months and got into debt before he joined GDF Suez Energy UK in 2009. He quickly realised there was an opportunity for him to be dishonest.
He said it was a simple fraud “not ingenuous” involving him creating invoices and forging signatures on them. The items were sent to his home or the yellow Storage Box Company in Leeds from which he tried to sell them quickly taking a loss of some 70% on the cost.
Mr Hargreaves added: “The money has been spent on gambling, that is his tragic downfall.”
He said Revill had tried to win big to pay back the company and at one time had £3m in his account “trying to get myself out of the hole I’d dug” but that had gone.
He was relieved to be finally caught and was shocked at the total involved.
Det Chief Insp Mark Griffin, who heads the Leeds District Proceeds of Crime Act Team, said: “Revill abused his position of trust and defrauded his employer on a massive scale to feed his addiction to online gambling.
“His actions have destroyed his life and affected a number of businesses. This case clearly highlights the very serious consequences of gambling addiction and illustrates how effective the Proceeds of Crime Act is in helping us to tackle offences of this nature”.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Few And Simple

Following last night's demolition job by Manchester City, all results have been tabulated for the FTL and the current standings are:

Some administrative notes before we get down to the individual results, and the first is that entries eligible for the cash prizes are shown with a ($) before and after their name. I am also going to include the 'official' results from services such as Peter Nordsted's Premier Betting and Skeeve. For example Premier Betting this weekend had twelve official bets, but some are non-qualifiers as far as the FTL is concerned because the Half-Time prices are not recorded by the excellent web site, and neither are the Under 1.5 prices. Where the bet is an Under or an Over, the FTL records the 2.5 goals market, but Premier Betting sometimes tip the Under 1.5 and the Under 2.5 so only one bet makes it into the FTL. Since this might be seen as doing the service a disservice, I'll try to track the full results using those given by the service. Clear as mud?

Skeeve sometimes puts his selections into doubles, but to keep things simple, the FTL will treat these as two single bets, but track the official results as well.

So in descending order, Fizzer (I chose the name Forza Fizzer as a temporary measure pending an official choice of name) went for a no nonsense approach selecting one team (albeit one with a rather long name) and one winner as Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Motherwell 2-0 at a Pinnacle price of 2.59. Very nice start. I personally got matched at 2.52 on Betfair and close to kick-off the price had shortened to 2.36.

Football Elite will be pleased to get into profit early this season selection just one bet also, Nice who beat Rennes 2-1.

Skeeve had one winner and one loser, Alfreton won, Luton drew, but Alfreton's Pinnacle price of 2.09 ensured a small profit.

The Bundeslayga selections had one qualifier in the end, but Moenchengladbach won easily for a losing bet.

Pete's Drawmaster returned for the new season, but one winner from five (Norwich City v Everton) meant a small opening day loss.

Last week's co-leader Punter's Friend went for five home lays, but only one (Sunderland) obliged by failing to win.

The XX Draws Under 2.5 bets had just three winners from nine selections with four matches seeing four goals, and two seeing three. Two of the matches saw all four goals come in the second half.

Premier Betting started the FTL season with a win on the Liverpool v Stoke Unders, but lost the other five of six selections. Arsenal v Aston Villa and Swansea City v Manchester United both went over, while Chelsea v Hull City somehow stayed Under, as did Sunderland v Fulham, and Cardiff City needed more than +0.5 to cover at West Ham United. Their official bets included five half-time bets, only one of which won.

Fedslam will not look back on opening weekend in the EPL too fondly, dodging winners in all six selections. The failure of Crystal Palace to beat Tottenham Hotspur was especially upsetting.

Scatter Gun repeated week one's performance finding two matches from ten ending 1-1, 2-1 or 1-2 for another loss, and propping up the table are the XX Draws.

Just two winners from nine meant a second losing week. Winning draws at Norwich City (v Everton) and Toulouse (v Bordeaux) were the good news, with the hard-luck loss of the week being Southampton scoring a 90' penalty at West Bromwich Albion with the perfect draw in sight. A couple of other selections were draws as late as the 76' and 79' but it's a long season and any bad luck will even itself out. I hope.

The mistake I mentioned on Saturday was backing Croatia Football Bets selection of Dinamo Zagreb to cover -1.75 rather than the -1.25 stated. I nearly got away with it as Dinamo Zagreb led 2-0 until NK Lokomotiva scored in the 78'.

All in all a disappointing weekend for many of us, and so far the lesson seems to be to keep the number of bets few and the type of bet simple.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Caan Berry over at Trading A  Profit on Betfair's Exchanges brings up the subject of being rich, prompted by his reading of the 2007 book "The 4 Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferris.
I've come across a rather interesting book just recently, i'm not all the way through it yet although i don't think its going to be long! If i can find time to read it that is!
So far it's really made me think, what is rich?
Because everyones rich is different.... or so it should be. Does it really matter about the 6 figure bank balance? or is it just the lifestyle we hoped for that we associate with that?
I think for me, i have spent along time associating a great life, early retirement with large monetary values but its not always the case. What is the point in working 40 hours a week and living for 2 days where you spend one of them starting to relax and the other dreading the day after?
So when i think about it like that already, i'm already rich. I don't have a boss to answer to if i want a holiday or to check how much of my allowance is remaining, i don't need to fret and worry about working hours, i certainly don't have to work 40 hours a week and still i find myself in a position of well above the average income. To top it all off i enjoy doing this every day!!
So it seems like i already am in a great position although i think this last year has only really just been the start for me!!
Nothing else to report other than the usual, would be really good to hear some views on the above questions though? is it why you're interesting in trading the sports markets?

I'll update and talk about my thoughts on the book later next week as i'm having a long weekend this weekend!!
Leaving aside the wishy-washy stuff about richness being about family and friends and relationships and focusing on financial richness, it is of course all relative. Not only relative to others, but relative to your previous position in life. If you inherited  £5 million are are now down to £500k, you may not feel rich whereas someone from more typical humble beginnings starting out with very little might well consider themselves rich with that same amount.

I think I've written on here before that by one definition, the crossover point into richness is reached when income from investment exceeds expenses. It's at that point where earned income becomes technically unnecessary, although why so many people find their jobs so unfulfilling that they would rather quit at this point than continue to enhance their quality of life is a little baffling.

We are all different, but reaching the crossover point is immensely liberating, so even if you hate your job (which begs the question why didn't you change years ago to something more palatable) you can do something else. Caan talks about working 40 hours a week and then living 2 days a week. Perhaps this is true if you are working on a production line or employed in some form of manual labour, but I suspect most people reading this work in a more white collar environment, where work is not all work, but an integral part of our lives and probably something we take some pride in. Work is often more than just financially rewarding. After all, the first question after meeting someone for the first time is often "So what do you do?", and instant impressions are formed depending on the answer. It's something of a paradox, but in my experience, the more you enjoy your job, the sooner you will be in a position to leave it. If you enjoy your work, it ceases to be work and success (financial and otherwise) often follows.

The 'working' part of my week is blurred these days any way, but if anyone dreads going in to work on a Monday, they have some changes to make in their lives. Life is good every day.

I'd also say that I wouldn't consider myself rich if I ever needed to "check how much of my allowance is remaining", nor would I enjoy trading if it was my main source of income and "did this every day". There are easier ways to make money if that is your main goal in life. Early retirement sounds like a dream, but more and more successful people are now working way past the traditional retirement age, and not because they have to.

We live longer than we used to, and 'work' no longer means working 40 hours in an office between 8 and 5 with lunch between noon and 1. With telecommuting, many jobs now, including my own, are at least part of the time work-from-home. (At last week's training class it was stated that 28% of the company now work from home). I often put in hours from home myself (sometimes doing double duty with trading which is perfect) and take days or hours off to compensate, and the older you get, the more senior you become, and the more time off you are allowed and the better the benefits and bonuses. Work gets easier in other words. It's a bit of a shame to slave away and then quit just at the time when it is all about to become easier anyway.

On the other hand, I am not planning to delay retirement to the point where my time left to travel and physical ability to do so are limited. When that time is will be different for all of us, with a number of variables involved, but in my view 'work' shouldn't be thought of as the four letter word that it is.

E(&W)PL Opening Day Notes

It's a little like the night before Xmas when we were kids. Entries to the Friendly Tipster League have continued to flood in, (well, two more yesterday) and everyone sees action this weekend as the curtain goes up on the E&WPL - more on this later.

Some selections are of course proprietary, (e.g. Skeeve, Football Elite, Premier Betting) but I can reveal that Inverness Caledonian Thistle are tipped by Fizzer to beat Motherwell, and that the Bundeslayga has hit a technical problem. Having layed Werder Bremen at 1.92, they are now out to 2.03 on the exchanges and 1.99 at Pinnacle making them a non-qualifier so far as the FTL is concerned.

Punter's Friend (Neil in disguise) has the two Bundeslayga selections (Moenchengladbach is the other), plus lays of Sunderland, St Etienne and Monaco.

Fedslam goes for Norwich City to beat Everton, draws in the Sunderland v Fulham and West Bromwich Albion v Southampton matches, Over 2.5 at West Ham United (v Cardiff City) and home wins for Swansea City (v Manchester United) and on Sunday, for Crystal Palace (v Tottenham Hotspur). I like that one.

Peter Norsted's Drawmaster is back, and I am pleased to see that he has slipped the surly bonds of having to find exactly three each week from the EPL. He has four this weekend, plus Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen. The EPL games are those at Norwich City, Sunderland, Swansea City and Crystal Palace. I like that one too. Just not quite as much as I like Fedslam's,

The mentions of Cardiff City and Swansea City remind me of a conversation I had recently with Mrs. Cassini. Scott (PT) sent me a link to an article about Nate Silver and the likelihood that Scotland will vote for independence next year, (which is slim to none) and I mentioned this over dinner to the lucky lady. "Why won't they want to throw of the yoke of English oppression too like the Welsh did?" she asked, but she may have been getting confused with (part of) Ireland at this point. (She is American of course, and I hear this 'oppressor' line from her a lot).

I then pointed out that 10% of the English Premier League are not actually English teams, at which point she started to get very confused. "Well that's stupid. Why do they call it the English Premier League then"? 

She has a point. I blame the confusion on the cider rather than my explanation. Thanks Scott (who is no Scot) for the link. The majority NO vote at 1.17 looks excellent value on the exchanges.

Not sure I can blame the cider for my early morning mistake a few minutes ago, but I shall explain more tomorrow.

Note to self - wear reading glasses before that first cup of coffee.

Friday, 16 August 2013

FTL Update And Zero Commission

With the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga kicking off this weekend, the FTL will soon be in full flow. Peter Nordsted will be entering his Drawmaster selections as well as his Premier Betting picks. With eight entries, the prize money format changes to pay out to three places, and I owe Neil an apology for missing his entries last week from the table which is updated below. Neil's selections were the same as the Bundeslayga, but this week he is branching out so the tie will likely be broken:

The more the merrier, so if you want to join the fun, it's not too late. A season's long entertainment for just £25 and you could walk away with not only bragging rights, but also some cash. What a deal! I've been away on a training class for a few days, so I have a few blogs and posts to catch up on over the next few days. One headline I did see was that BETDAQ are offering the lunchtime EPL game every Saturday as a zero commission event. All markets, all season. Liverpool v Stoke City is this weekend's match, and it will be interesting to see what, if any effect this move has on the markets over at Betfair. A quick look shows that the prices are identical with Betfair still leading on amount matched by a ratio of about 3:1.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Weak One

We are up to seven in the FTL 2013-14 competition, with probably a few more to come. Opening weekend in France and Germany saw just me and Scatter Gun competing for cash, with Football Elite in their as an amateur - in the 'not eligible to win money' definition of the word.

After week one, nothing much to write home about. The conservative Bundeslayga selections lead the way, in line for a first prize currently worth £168.75. The XX Draws started off in superb style with a 1-1 draw between Montpellier and Paris St Germain, but after that it was all downhill.

Including newly promoted teams hasn't been an issue before, but this weekend saw a few unexpected results with them, none more than Hertha Berlin's 6-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Eintracht Braunschweig came close to a perfect draw, holding Werder Bremen until the 82nd minute, Monaco were held until the same time at Bordeaux, and the final newly promoted team Guingamp were 0-2 down after 4 minutes of their opening Ligue 1 game. Rennes and Reims was also a late loser with the game level at 1-1 as late as 84'.

Scatter Gun found two winners (games ending 1-1, 2-1 or 1-2) for an opening day loss of 3.2 points, and Football Elite also selected newly promoted Eintracht Braunschweig, picking them to win.

Next weekend we will have Punter's Friend and Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster and Premier Betting selections also going for the money. Although the FTL uses fixed staking, Peter will be recommending variable staking for a fixed return 'because of the prices'.

I must admit I am a little confused by one method should have any advantage over the other. At evens, it makes absolutely no difference at all, and little difference around that price. If your edge is on odds-on selections, you maximise your profits by using variable staking, but if your edge is on longer odds, you are better off with fixed staking. The problem is that if your edge should turn out to be negative, the laws of mathematics mean that your losses increase by following that strategy.

Anyway, Peter is good with recording results to level stakes, but it will be interesting to compare results with a variable staking method.

Here is the table after week one. The excitement will heat up from next week :)

The XX Draws have been sent for the four leagues in action next weekend.

SportsTradingLife had a post on trading football, and in the in-play section had this to say:
With in-play football trading you will definitely require a good knowledge of the sport itself. If you can watch the match live and spot opportunities this is good but usually you will also have to consult match stats websites to give you a better idea of what positions to take in-play.
The problem I have with this simplistic comment is that unless you can spot opportunities that others can't, you have no edge. Inside information it is not, if everyone else has it. The prices in-play are accurate - if the starting prices were accurate. And with football, there are a lot of eyes watching the game along with you. There's nothing wrong with having a little confidence, but a dose of reality is healthy too. Football is a very tough sport to trade in-play profitably.

XX Draw subscribers will know that I am noticing some pre-game movements that are interesting. Early days yet, but pre-game trading to me offers far more potential than chasing profits in-play.    

Friday, 9 August 2013

XX Draws And FTL Update 2013-14

With the new season starting for real tonight, if you want to receive all the projected 500 plus draw selections for less than 30p a shot, you'll need to move fast. We have one selection from opening night, and then a bunch from the remainder of the weekend.

For the Friendly Tipster League, I am going to run this from tonight through to the final weekend of the Big Five season (18th May 2014). I'll have three entries this year, the XX Draws, the Under 2.5 and the Bundeslayga selections, and anyone else can join so long as they broadly follow the updated rules for this season. I say broadly because Gundulf wants to enter his spray-gun system or whatever he calls it, and this is a bet on the Correct Score market. He has suggested a formula to allow for the fact that Correct score prices are not easy to record, one that is going to be on the low side, so like many of these bets, the table will be just a guide and in the real world you should be able to beat it.

A few people have said they like the idea of a competition for money, and to accommodate those who may not want to put their money where their mouths are, I'll make this optional.

I'm proposing an entry fee of £25. For some season long fun, that's not bad! I'll throw £50 into the pot to get it started, plus three lots of £25 for my three entries, and anyone else interested just needs to send me their entry fee (or fees if you have more than one set of selections).

PayPal to CalcioCassini @ 

I know the much respected Skeeve is interested this season, and possibly his friend's Croatian Football Bets which I can personally vouch for and say are off to a flier.

If only one person joins me, the pot will be 100% to the winner.

For 5-7 entries, it'll pay 75% to the winner, 25% to the runner-up.

For 8-11 entries, first three will receive 60%, 25%, 15% respectively.

12 or more, first four will get 50%, 25%, 15% and 10%.

So the pot stands at £125 and to sweeten it a little more, if any cash winner is a paid up full season XX Draw subscriber, I will double their prize.  So get signing up and send in those picks from this weekend's matches.

The FTL table will include all entries, 'professionals' and 'amateurs' but only the entry fee paying 'professionals' will be eligible for prizes. I'll also take the hit on any fees deducted by PayPal. I also had a suggestion that there should be a minimum number of selections and a minimum number of selections per month, to ensure that no one has a big first winner and then sits out the rest of the season. The minimum total number of bets will be 64, and each month (August and September count as one as do April and May) must have at least 5 selections. Late comers can join at any time (might be an idea if everyone is deep in the red!) but they will need to make a pro-rated number of total selections, plus the minimum of 5 per month.

If anyone has any questions, suggestions or if I am missing something, let me know. I've tried to keep it simple, but I know what gamblers are like...

Also, I know this is short notice so entries received before kick-off times will be provisionally accepted subject to receiving the entry fee by next Tuesday. Surely no one will drop out without paying after one weekend?

Whether you join the XX Draws, the FTL, neither or both, good luck in 2013-14.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Ian Goes Topless

Some generous words from Ian Erskine over at the FTS Income blog (no affiliation) today - Ian likes his rants, they have health benefits for him, but his posts usually contain some solid advice on expectations and execution when it comes to gambling.

About yours truly, he has this to say:

Online (I know he will thank me for the plug/link), I have mentioned before that I read the Greenalloverblog and respect the man behind it. I don’t know Cassini and he does not know me, we know of each other. He is successful in the field of American sports and has won a good few quid. I don’t trade American Sports, but if I wanted to, I would want to win and my first move into that field would be to contact Cassini and ask him if he would teach me to do what he does (By the way Cassini I won’t). He may well say no and that would be his prerogative as he wants to protect his own positions and value. If he was acceptable then I would expect a reasonable fee to be charged as potentially that would enable me to make a lot of money.
High praise indeed, and the plug / link is, as always, appreciated. I am a little concerned that Ian is trying to take over my position as 'most arrogant**' blogger, but while I am nowhere near Ian's numbers in terms of gambling winnings, (this is a part-time hobby for me, and the hours available for betting part of the reason why I focus on US sports), we do share much in common when it comes to our thoughts on mindset and the effort you need to put in to be profitable.
Betting requires skills and a certain mindset just like any other well paying job. Just like a surgeon learns to operate, I believe most people can learn to gamble correctly. The problem is they don’t want to, they want it to arrive on a fairy down the chimney and bless them with the ability to make money.
Read Ian's post, and you'll see what I mean. He gives examples of the amount of money and time it takes to train for a skilled and high paying job, and contrasts this with the idea that so many people have that you can hand over £37 and suddenly be making a six figure salary.

To be making a six figure income from gambling, you are going to need to make a significant investment of time and / or money, and there are no short cuts. As Ian says, it is not easy, but with the right mindset, the beauty of gambling is that you can build up slowly from a small bank. It is one reason why I am not a proponent of full-time gambling, at least not until you have proven to be successful for a decent length of time. There is no reason why you can't supplement an income part-time and remove any pressure from 'having't to make money gambling. Pressure leads to poor decisions. As with any skill, you start small and if you have what it takes, you progress to the next level. You don't fly for the Red Arrows as your first job as a pilot.  

Ian doesn't mention this in his latest post, but it is revealing what he is written before on the subject of how you can teach several people the same thing, but while some make a profit from the information, others contrive to take a loss. 

There's a very old joke about the Archbishop of Westminster who receives a call from the Vatican telling him that the latest Pope has died unexpectedly, and to attend the Papal Conclave immediately and keep the news of the Pope's death quiet. As he is headed to the airport, he notices a young man, (this is a Catholic priest after all) looking a little down on his luck, and takes pity of him. He gives the man a tenner and tells him to get down to the bookies and place a bet on the Pope's death being announced in the next few days.

Upon his return from Rome, the Archbishop again runs into the young man, still looking a little down on his luck. 

"What happened?" asked Archie - didn't you hear what I told you? 

To which the young man replied "Yeah I did, but I put him in a double with the Archbishop of Canterbury". 

** In truth, neither of us are really arrogant - just confident that we are doing something right. 

Ticking Off

The Betfair Forum thread on the 0:0 draw continued yesterday, with the respected Kenilworth (aka the Stephen Hawking of Betfair) commenting: 
Excellent post by cpfc4me. Fwiw, the sides most likely to produce 0-0's are those with the lower goal expectancy. 
What I find intriguing is the fascination of the 0-0 scoreline. At half time in this Sheffield United v Notts County almost a third of the money placed on the correct score is/was on 0-0 despite being about 5th favourite in the betting. Perhaps a psychiatrist can explain why.
The first sentence really didn't need to be said, and 0-0s in the second is plural, and doesn't need an apostrophe, but his point is correct on goal expectancy. While I am closer to requiring the services of a psychiatrist than being qualified to practice as one, in my opinion the 0:0 is so popular because at the start of a match, it is the winning score. If nothing happens, the price will decay, and that can be seductive.

AyersRock suggested that:
The fascination with the 0-0 scoreline is because if you look at the most frequent scoreline at half time last season in the big leagues it reads like this (see table left)
And then he suggests that "it's a good trading position" - presumably for the reason I suggested above. When challenged by Kenilworth to "explain why you think it's a good trading position" the reply was:

For half time scores market I have backed the 0-0 many times and traded out for 20 ticks before half-time

I believe I have mentioned this before, but unless there is some magical reason why, upon decaying by 20 ticks, the price on 0:0 is suddenly a value lay after being a value back for the previous 19 ticks, why would you lay at this time?

Kenilworh did ask if AyersRock had made any money, and of course the answer was yes, and I am sure that this is a profitable strategy for many matches.

The problem is that in the long run, unless the initial price on the 0:0 was a value back, i.e. your goal expectancy was lower than the market's, and you are right more often than the market, then you are destined to lose in the long run whether you lay off after 1 tick, 5 ticks, 20 ticks, or [enter tick count here] ticks.

Following the AyersRock 'logic', would backing the current score after a goal and waiting 20 ticks be a good trading position too? Does this system work with the half-time score?

Unfortunately in-play football betting is not that simple. If it really were that easy AyersRock would be logging in from Uluru and other tourist destinations around the world and be a millionaire several times over.

And if AyersRocks really is profitable long term on these bets, then he is finding value and shouldn't be shooting himself in the foot by giving value back after 20 ticks.

Out of interest, I looked at the XX Draw Half-Time 0:0s from last season and in England, France, Italy and Spain, the percentage was 34.8% (157 from 451). In the Bundesliga, the percentage was slightly lower than the league average at 24.24%.

Less than a week to go before the real football season begins. Pinnacle are taking their time putting up prices in Ligue 1, but the Bundesliga selections have been recorded. And after the first day of a two-day meeting attended by all clubs, the Italian fixtures are decided. The second day is needed to work out what the results will be.

I'm here all week.

Friday, 2 August 2013

0:0 And Gambler's Fallacy

Some free, but not very good, advice seen recently on the Betfair Forum is this:

Lay the 0:0 in the games after a team draws 0:0 with the two teams. So for example Manchester City draw 0 0 with Southampton then lay 0:0 in their following games. Very unusual for a team to get 2 0:0s in a row - outside Argentina that is!
Really? I'd like to see the research on this finding! As something of a (self-proclaimed) expert on the draw, I took a quick look at last season, and the big five leagues and found the following:

Fortuna Dusseldorf and Genoa both had THREE consecutive 0:0s

Bordeaux and Palermo had consecutive 0-0s twice.

In the EPL Arsenal opened the season with two 0:0s. Chelsea, QPR, Everton and Norwich all had consecutive 0:0s.

Freiburg did it in the goal rich Bundesliga and Catania and Undinese had consecutive 0:0s in Serie A.

Bastia, Marseille and Toulouse all did it in France, and Osasuna and Getafe went back-to-back 0:0 in La Liga.

And there may well be others. I have a life you know!

I remember when Tranmere Rovers played five consecutive 0:0s in 1997-98. Not sure if that was a record, but consecutive 0:0s is certainly not 'very unusual' and you should never lay 0:0 solely on the basis that this was a team's previous result. Gambler's Fallacy.

In fact, in my opinion, if a team can't score and is solid at the back, isn't the 0:0 in the next game more likely, not less, all other factors being equal?

For the record, 54 of the 517 matches selected by the XX Draws spreadsheet last season ended scoreless (10.44%) and overall the total has been 172 / 1705 overall (10.09%).

Thursday, 1 August 2013


I've long since given up the idea of a monthly review, because it is of no interest to anyone but myself, but one thing that caught my attention when wrapping up July's numbers was how boringly consistent my profits have been over the last four months.

Taking the average over this period, April was 3.5% above, May was 8.2% below, June was 2.7% below and July is provisionally 7.4% above. (The final number will depend on the Premium Charge which is weekly, not monthly, and will likely be charged to July, barring a bad weekend). Not surprisingly, my monthly Benford number has been boringly the same all four months too.

The Summer months are usually boring. Based on the median over the past eight years, June through September are four of my worst five months with April the worst by quite a long way, as I have somehow managed to have four losing months here.

Not all months are the same of course, making them arbitrary snapshots of unequal time periods and any observations are of academic interest only. Totals since September 2008 and October 2012 are impacted by the Premium Charge and Super Premium Charges respectively, which often makes depressing reading when comparing pre-charge numbers with post-charge, but it must be still worthwhile for me to continue to spend some, albeit reduced, time on the exchanges.

Looking at August 2012, I see my net profit was a whopping £68, so I shall be disappointed not to beat that! Not only does proper football get under way again, but the NFL starts on Sunday with the Hall of Fame game between the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys in Canton, Ohio. August is all meaningless exhibition games in the NFL, with starters playing very little until the season proper begins in the first week of September.

The college version of the game does get started in late August, as does the US Tennis Open, and the pennant races in baseball heat up in August too. The New York Yankees look likely to miss out on the play-offs this season, and the fate of Alex Rodriguez will be interesting to see. 18 of the 30 teams either lead their division or are within 10 games, and only one division (NL East - Atlanta) is all but over.